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Garco Building Systems laying off 112, closing Airway Heights factory

November 16, 2016 GMT

Garco Building Systems is closing its Airway Heights factory and has laid off 112 workers.

The company will still employ just under 50 people there in sales and IT, said Darcy Matthews, vice president of investor relations at NCI Group, the Houston-based owner of Garco Building Systems.

Matthews said demand is depressed in the Pacific Northwest for the steel buildings manufactured at the plant. NCI operates 41 plants in the U.S. and internationally.

Garco has been in the region since 1958, originally called Garceau Steel Structures. Garco Construction spun off from the company in 1982.

The company has manufactured industrial buildings for the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds, a diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories and McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

George Moore, chief steward at the Garco factory for the Boilermakers Union Local 242, said workers were told Tuesday morning that the plant would close and were immediately laid off. About 95 of the 112 affected workers were represented by the union.

“It took a lot of people by surprise,” Moore said. “We didn’t know that was coming.”

But he said it’s been clear for some time that regional demand for the factory’s products has been declining. “We don’t have a lot of orders coming in, haven’t for quite a few years from some of our major customers,” he said. Products made in Airway Heights were being shipped long distances, a costly move.

After a strong spring, “we were expecting things to slow down considerably, but we were thinking we were going to be able to white-knuckle our way through it,” he said.

The affected jobs paid an average of $18 to $19 an hour, Moore said.

The local WorkSource office has been in contact with the employees to help them apply for unemployment benefits, the state Employment Security Department said.

Matthews, at NCI, said the parent company hasn’t decided what it will do with the Garco Building Systems plant at 2714 S. Garfield Road in Airway Heights; the company moved in there in 1978.

Garco was sold to NCI in 2007.